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At Long Last, St. Norbert Brings Home NCAA Hockey Championship

From Sports Information Director, March 23, 2008 | Men's Hockey
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The long wait is over.

Behind an unprecedented defensive effort in NCAA Division III history, the St. Norbert College ice hockey team claimed its first national championship with a 2-0 win over Plattsburgh State University at historic Herb Brooks Arena.

The Green Knights, who beat Norwich University 3-0 in the national semifinals, became the first team in NCAA Division III history to post shutouts in both games in the NCAA Frozen Four. St. Norbert finished the year allowing just 43 goals in 32 games, with its scoring defense of 1.34 goals allowed per game setting a new NCAA Division III record. Middlebury's 1.47 scoring defense in 2006 was the previous standard.

St. Norbert finished the year 27-1-4, becoming just the third team in NCAA Division III history to finish a season with just one loss -- and the first one-loss team to win a national championship. The Green Knights will also carry a 29-game unbeaten streak into the 2008-09 season.

The Green Knights survived an early Plattsburgh flurry in the first period to end the first 20 minutes of action scoreless.

St. Norbert scored 5 minutes 53 seconds into the second period when Scott Pulak deflected a Nick Tabisz shot past Cardinals goaltender Bryan Hince.

The Green Knights pushed the bulge out to 2-0 when Marc Belanger scored his 23rd goal of the season at 10:25 of the second on a wicked wristshot from just inside the blue line directly in front of the goal. After two Plattsburgh skaters collided, Belanger was free and took a pass from Matt Boyd. Belanger, who was stopped on a drive from the slot in the first period, fired a laser past Hince top-shelf.

From there, St. Norbert's penalty kill would do most of the heavy lifting. Peter Fylling took a five-minute major checking from behind penalty at 13:57 of the second period. The Green Knights killed off the penalty despite five Cardinal shots.

St. Norbert would have a 5-on-3 power play late in the second period that carried over into the third, but would not score.

Plattsburgh would get two power-play opportunities in the third period but did not score. The Cardinals also had the last 2:30 of the game with an extra attacker, but could not solve St. Norbert goaltender Kyle Jones.

Jones finished his stellar career with a 32-save shutout -- his tenth of the season and the 25th of his career. Jones finished the 2007-08 season with a glittering 1.09 goals against average and a .950 save percentage -- both NCAA Division III single-season records.

Jones, the 2008 NCAA Division III Player of the Year, finished one of the greatest careers in Division III hockey history with an 87-10-8 record, .926 save percentage and 1.61 goals against average.

Belanger, St. Norbert's only other senior, ended his 119-game career with 62 goals and 70 assists for 132 points. His career scoring is seventh all-time in school history, and his goals scored are fourth all-time in St. Norbert annals.

St. Norbert's championship now gives the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association its fifth different NCAA Division III national champion -- joining Bemidji State (1986), UW-River Falls (1988, '94), UW-Stevens Point (1989, '90, '91, '93) and UW-Superior (2002). It is also the first national championship for a Midwest Conference member school, of which St. Norbert is a member in all other sports.

St. Norbert head coach Tim Coghlin became the first person in NCAA Division III history to play on and coach a national men's ice hockey champion. Coghlin was the captain of UW-Stevens Point's 1989 national championship squad.